I am the maid of honor in my best friend's wedding this Summer and am already having extreme anxiety about my toast. I have known the bride and her entire family most of my life, but am not at all comfortable with public speaking. While I know it isn't mandatory for the maid of honor to speak at the wedding, I really want to toast my best friend and her husband. Can you give me any tips or advice on what to say and how to calm my nerves? --Speechless Sophie
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Dear Speechless Sophie--
Public speaking can be extremely nerve wracking, so I understand why you are already feeling the pressure. You are right; it isn't mandatory for you to speak, so I applaud you for putting your fears aside so you can say a few words to the bride and groom.
While it is customary for the maid of honor to speak at the wedding, if you feel more comfortable talking in a smaller, more intimate setting, ask the bride how she would feel about you making your speech at the rehearsal dinner instead. If standing up in front of all the guests is making you extra weary, perhaps you could collaborate with another bridesmaid and toast the couple together. Another option is to ask the best man to stand next to you while you speak for moral support.
There are no rules when it comes to speeches, so don't feel like you have to wow the crowd. Keep it short, sweet, and show your personality. If you feel more comfortable reading a pre-written speech, be sure to make eye contact and have most of your speech memorized. No matter when or how you choose to deliver your speech, the most important thing to remember is to speak from the heart. Since there will no doubt be a lot of toasting going on, perhaps a little champagne will help take the edge off, but be sure not to have too much to drink! Good luck.